Education  India Project #21133

Transform the lives of 2900 children in Hyderabad

by Teach For India
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Transform the lives of 2900 children in Hyderabad
Transform the lives of 2900 children in Hyderabad
Transform the lives of 2900 children in Hyderabad
Transform the lives of 2900 children in Hyderabad
Transform the lives of 2900 children in Hyderabad
Transform the lives of 2900 children in Hyderabad
Transform the lives of 2900 children in Hyderabad
Transform the lives of 2900 children in Hyderabad
Transform the lives of 2900 children in Hyderabad
Transform the lives of 2900 children in Hyderabad
Transform the lives of 2900 children in Hyderabad

"I teach grade 9 and 10 students at the St. Albert's High School in Hyderabad. I have seen my students grow from going completely silent in mathematics class to solving questions on the whiteboard while explaining them to their peers. We have gone from just copying answers in science class to asking about everything under the sun.

It has been a challenging period to deal with multiple classrooms and community visits. Still, my school team was always there by my side and helped me successfully fulfil my responsibilities. While teaching higher grades added an extra amount of pressure to complete the syllabus and make students exam-ready, blended learning came as a rescue; I had the opportunity to ensure my students' holistic development and well-being without compromising academic excellence. With schools reopening, I am engaging an average of 24 instructional hours of synchronous learning spaces every week and a commensurate amount of asynchronous learning material in the virtual medium.

The last few months were filled with hardships, uncertainties, and adversities. Still, they have left me with a hope that we will one day see all children attaining excellent education, just because we have a lot of people like us working towards supporting directly in this movement."

These past three months have been a rollercoaster ride with uncertainties surrounding schools opening and the safety precautions that had to be maintained when the schools eventually opened. Creating a safe space for Students to return to school needs meticulous planning. We had multiple conversations with the school staff and the parents to ensure the safety of the students within the school, such as physical distancing in the classroom and staggered entry plans for different grades. With physical distancing norms, having group activities was limited, so we had to devise means of hybrid learning with the help of school staff.

Measuring impact

  • We’ve had 90% attendance of the students in school and 82% engagement in classroom participation and asynchronous work submission.
  • 70% of the students are completely aware of the available career options for them, 55% have shortlisted the feasible options considering various personal and academic factors, and 20% of the students have chalked down their next steps for the short term and long-term goals
  • Our continuous efforts with English learning labs and specialized blended learning curriculum has increased the class average literacy mastery by 10% over last year’s average mastery. Alongside the literacy mastery, students have shown 24-30% progress on listening, writing, and speaking skills over last year’s levels. Besides, with digital learning, debates and discussion spaces, practical classes and real-life problem-solving techniques over the previous eight months, grade 10 students’ average mastery for all the subjects grew by 18%.

Students’ overall well-being

Community visits and parental conversations to examine their well-being and convince them to bring their children back into the learning loop have become fruitful. Engaging with parents has led to them becoming more involved in their child’s education and holistic development.

The pandemic put a lot of pressure on my Students. While some of them have learned and grown from these experiences, few are still struggling to cope with the pandemic's added burden. To address this, we have declared Fridays as “No Bag Days” at school, where the students engage in Socio-Emotional Learning and also get an opportunity to showcase their talents/projects to the whole class. Grade 9 students also participate in various co-curricular and extracurricular events and competitions like inter-school debates, quizzes and regional and district level sports competitions to improve their social skills.

Blended learning has also led to an opportunity for the students to acquire digital literacy skills and take responsibility for their own learning. It is a big goal that we aspire to achieve through our classrooms, where the students take responsibility for their own learning. We organized personal SWOT analysis and career counselling spaces (external partners) with our students to create self-awareness and realize their goals and aspirations for the future. We have also collaborated with other Fellows from different schools to provide career counselling to our students.

Student achievers

One of the success stories was that of a student who cultivated reading books during the lockdown. She slowly picked up with reviewing the books on her blog. Today, she is almost on the verge of finishing her own novel and planning to publish it as well. The virtual learning also helped a few introverts and lower order students in my classroom to open up and use different learning methods to master the concepts at their own pace without any peer pressure. It brought a completely different aspect of their personality and learning prowess which increased their self-confidence and self-belief.

A peek into Akash's class
A peek into Akash's class
Distributing devices to students
Distributing devices to students
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Christmas Gifts
Christmas Gifts

This time, we are sharing an update, straight from a Teach For India classroom. Here are some reflections a Grade 3 Fellow from Hyderabad has shared –

1. With school reopening in batches and in-person community visits, what have the past 3 months been like for you as a Fellow?

As a fellow, the initial online phase (Sept-Dec) was a big challenge for me considering the fact that the 3rd grade students were not used to the new normal. Since, my class was a Year 1 intervention classroom, I focused on setting up the culture, developing connections and making the students comfortable in an online space.  The students slowly picked up the pace, yet regular attendance was a pain-point. To solve this problem, I along with my Co-fellow implemented a hybrid teaching structure under the supervision of our Head Mistress.  In a week, initial 2 days were allotted for a physical space and remaining 4 days were online spaces. Owing to the structure, we saw drastic improvement in attendance numbers, connection with individual students, student’s performance, parent-teacher interaction and other stakeholder’s engagement. Holding physical spaces gave us an opportunity to do frequent community visits and gain a deeper insight on the existing Ed-inequity. Thus, the last 3 months were equally challenging and rewarding to me.

2. What impact has the class seen in this one year – what does the journey look like?

The class has seen its fair share of ups & downs in the journey so far. The journey gave us some eye-opening and enlightening moments to say the least.  The year was all about self-reflections and re-evaluating our choices to get an overall positive impact from each individual’s effort. The two biggest points of impact that our class saw was a significant growth in the student performance for those who attended regularly and second was a positive change in student behaviour owing to the Social and Emotional Learning classes they attended every weekend. The journey has just begun, we will see and hear more impactful stories in the years to come.

3. Please mention how has your journey in the classroom progressed in the classroom in the last 8 months?

My journey has been a collection of good, bad and ugly memories so far, a typical Hero’s Journey as described by Joseph Campbell. The last 8 months were a roller-coaster ride for me. The journey started with a lot of courage, hope, enthusiasm and a passion to do something for my country. As it progressed, I did face a lot of unprecedented challenges. The times were testing. I managed to get some overall stability in the later months. The classroom had an array of challenges, some of which were solved, some work-in-progress. It takes time to build and gain trust of students and other stakeholders especially in the times we are living right now, there’s no shortcut to this. From pin-drop silence to “bhaiyya can I share something”, the classroom dynamics have evolved. From “I don’t know you” to sharing tiffin and bringing surprises, the bond became stronger. Overall, there’s a significant growth. I see a huge potential in these kids and bright future for this classroom in the years ahead. 

My Grade 3 Classroom
My Grade 3 Classroom
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Evolve through Art
Evolve through Art

ORGANIZATION UPDATES

We would like to begin by sharing with you what makes us so proud of our community - Suraj, our student from 2009, recently got into IIT Kharagpur. We truly appreciate all the “didis and bhaiyas” who taught him over the years.We also completed our first round of selection for our 2021-23 Fellow cohort and we are so excited to have Sakshi, one of our first few Student Alums, join the Fellowship. She was part of an Akanksha school, and was also on ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ team last year. We really hope these stories brighten up your day!

 

  • Progress on Blended Learning:

 

Close to three months ago, we shifted our focus to blended learning, in order to ensure that our students are able to access learning as schools continue to remain shut. This came with a lot of challenges - the two biggest ones being access to technology and measuring progress towards learning in classrooms. We have made significant progress on both these aspects and continue to prioritize them across the organization. 

Access - We have secured 2800 devices so far and are raising funds to meet our goal of 10,000 devices. Fellows whose classrooms have received devices have reported their attendance going up to 80% due to the devices for students

Attendance and engagement -  We started the year with 10% attendance in our classrooms. Through weekly data collection, identifying trends and insights and device distribution, 50% of our students are attending at least one synchronous (online, in-person) class per week today. Similarly, 48% are engaging with at least one asynchronous (at-home, self-study) packet each week. As mentioned above, access to devices has been a major challenge in increasing attendance and engagement in classrooms. This is further amplified by factors such as migration, economic forces pushing Students into work and investment from parents towards education.

Mastery - We conducted assessments for 11,000 Students in September, and observed that students who complete asynchronous packets independently at home, have grown in their reading comprehension levels across all grades. In Math, most elementary Students are passing or scoring above 60%.

 

  • Child safety and protection

 

Since May, we have lost 10 Students and Student Alumni across Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad. We have been hearing instances of students facing unfathomable incidents like sexual abuse and child marriage. We're refining our approach to child safety as we're deeply concerned about the frequency of these cases.

To ensure that all our students continue to remain safe and healthy, we put together a committee that is looking into the kids mental health issues and partnered with several organizations specialising in mental health across our seven cities. Our collaboration with these organizations focus on resilience - proactively working on awareness to give our kids tools to be able to deal with the pandemic. We are also working closely with partners like Arpan NGO on child protection cases and with other experts on anxiety and depression for our kids to be able to effectively deal with the challenges they are facing. To ensure that students have easy access to mental health experts and medical support, we have also been considering setting up an emergency fund for them. 

HYDERABAD CITY UPDATES

 

  • Evolve through Art

 

Year 2 Fellow, Geetha designed an art curriculum called ‘Evolve through Art’ that aims at sparking creativity, mindfulness, self-confidence and foster overall skill and value development. The program consists of 14 activities with lesson plans and a self-evaluation rubric, meant for both elementary & secondary classrooms. 

 

  • BoY Summit

 

Highlights from the BoY summit this quarter include a thorough discussion on National Education Policy by student panel, keynote speech by Anurag Kundu who spoke about his intent on choosing as one of the key puzzle pieces to mitigating education inequity and Manasa Paramasivam’s inspiring personal story coming from a rural background and how that led to her work in rural development and education. challenges of the work, fostering community leadership in a rural context

 

  • Hallabol Briefing at Institute

 

To familiarize the 2020 Cohort with the vision, mission and idea of ‘Halla Bol’ - an inter-school debate competition aimed to amplify Student voice for Teach For India schools in Hyderabad, Amrita and Uday conducted a session for 20ers in the Institute. They took 20ers through the impact of the initiative and outlined the various roles team members had taken up which had changed the course of the way this event is organised in the city.

BoY Summit
BoY Summit
Hallabol Briefing at Institute
Hallabol Briefing at Institute

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I, Amrita teach a bunch of highly energetic and passionate students from Grade 9. I still remember the first time I heard of ‘Dramebaaz’ in my school. It was probably the first week of my Fellowship and I experienced the first-hand joy of contagious excitement. “Didi, will you take us for Dramebaaz this year?” Neeraja asked. Simply based on the theatre connotations the name came with, I promised her that I would. For the uninitiated, Dramebaaz is a platform and a "Be the Change Project' at Teach For India that leverages theatre to empower students from low-income communities.

Cut to 5 months later when Dramebaaz rolled out its sign-up form and I quickly signed up two teams with the intention of inculcating in them the love I have grown up with, for theatre. Over the weeks, I had realised that my students showed a knack for drama. However, their experience was limited to stage proscenium and the usual manner of conducting street plays.

Here is where the real uphill task began. The moment I mentioned that we wouldn’t play to our strengths, I was bombarded with concerns and complaints. However, I pushed them to look at the learning and I saw them gradually embrace the same.

The two teams auditioned for their place in this year’s edition and then, the select few, worked closely on the themes and scripts they wished to take upon stage, with regular feedback from my end. They witnessed different forms of theatre and re-imagined their portrayal of the theme till they were satisfied.

We finally settled upon taking forward a Mime and a Street Play- both new styles of theatre with topics as unique of the method. By the end of it, I saw a phenomenal improvement in students with regard to their skill sets, expression, confidence and resilience.

It was an inspiring journey, which was only made sweeter when their efforts were rewarded in the form of recognition on stage.

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Binduja's story on her project 'Voice' that empowers women of her community

"I was always around strong women in my life who exposed me to different problems faced by women in our country. This was one of the reasons I chose to work in social sector. When I was struggling with the many uncertainties in the school, the interactions with parents made me realize that their problems were deeper than I expected. My conversations with the mothers in the community made me understand the importance of safe spaces for creating strong voice. That made me start the Project “Voice” in our community, a sharing circle where each and every mother is heard. It became a space for them to take some time out from their monotonous routine, to relax and share their concerns. Our community is diverse with people from different religions. Most of the parents are not educated and conservative in their thoughts and parenting. It was difficult initially to start conversations with mothers, but gradually they opened up about their financial problems, domestic abuse and entrenched patriarchy. All these were the basic problems which are observed in every community but I could see these impacting my students the most. And the mothers never saw these as grave problems because for them it was normal. Now with project “Voice”, these women who were otherwise used to normalizing these daily issues are actively participating in being vocal about it and problem solving.

I wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity to work on such deep rooted, divergent problems had it not been for the Fellowship at Teach For India. I had plans for doing my masters in chemical engineering before joining Teach For India but the Fellowship enabled me to work on my passion of working with community women, making them heard and empowering them to be the strongest stakeholders of the society. Going further I want to pursue masters in Community Development for women studies to work with the people transforming communities where women and their opinions are given importance and respected."

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Organization Information

Teach For India

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @teachforindia
Project Leader:
Shiwani Singh
Hyderabad, Telangana India
$35,535 raised of $50,000 goal
 
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$14,465 to go
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